“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.” 2 Samuel 22:36
I just asked my wife what she thought was the scarcest spiritual fruit in my life. “Gentleness,” she responded graciously. And she’s right. As a father of four boys ranging in age from two to 13, I find my patience worn thin repeatedly. I too often respond in anger, foolishly trying to whip them into shape with a verbal lashing. It has yet to bring about any lasting change!
And when I think about it, harsh words have never worked on me, either. Growing up, disconcerting consequences and my parents’ gentle reminders were the only things that helped to change me bit by bit. Similarly, any spiritual fruit I’ve born has been due to God gently teaching me the same lessons again and again until I’ve finally learned, well, some of them.
If the gentleness of God makes us great, then one of the best ways to invest in those we love is through gentleness: being patient, kind, and affirming in our words and actions.
Like God has related to us, we must start where people are at and gently encourage them to take the next step. If we rush the process, wanting them to “arrive” now, we may cause them to feel exasperated and defeated. As we come alongside — walking with people, rather than barreling ahead — we will bear much fruit in the good work of discipleship.
Dear Jesus, I need Your patience. Teach me how to lead and instruct with gentleness and kindness. I invite You to deal with my impatience and anger. Please create in me Your heart for the people in my life. Amen.
Who is wearing your patience thin? Whose spiritual progress are you frustrated with? Place their hearts into God’s hands. Pray to have a heart of gentleness, and apologize to those you’ve been harsh with.